Ireland's biggest community wind farm moves a step closer
A project claiming to the largest community wind farm in Ireland has moved a step closer this week after being given planning permission.
Plans for 29 3MW wind turbines were first revealed in 2009 to be built on the western slopes of Mount Callan, a 391-metre high mountain located between Ennis and Miltown Malbay.
The cooperative behind the scheme, West Clare Renewable Energy (WCRE), also criticised Ireland's previous government for its 'unrealistic grid connection' policies which had delayed the scheme which will create 200 construction jobs and more than 40 full time roles.
The Euro 170M scheme will be capable of generating enough electricity to power every home and business in County Clare near where the wind farm will be built.
Last week An Bord Pleannalla, which is in charge of approving Ireland's large-scale infrastructure, granted permission to WCRE to build what it claims is the 'biggest community owned' windfarm in the country.
WCRE chairman and Clare-based entrepreneur, Padraig Howard, said he was delighted and relieved on behalf of the company and the thirty farm families who have 'invested heavily in this iconic renewable energy project'.
He said: "Mount Callan offered the perfect combination of wind resource, existing transmission lines and available land for wind farms
"Yet because of the unrealistic grid connection policies adopted by previous governments, projects such as this, which can immediately provide badly needed jobs, can face years of delay before grid connection.
"However the new government have committed in their programme for government to reform the grid connection process and prioritise 'shovel ready' projects that can commence quickly.
"The economic gains available to the Irish exchequer from the increased employment and ancillary activities of this project are estimated to run into tens of millions and are now dependent only on the government acting quickly on the grid connection issue"
WCRE is made up of renewable energy firm West Clare Renewables and 30 farm families who together own 3,000 acres of primarily upland properties on Mount Callan.
The landowners have a majority shareholding in the company and have also included a significant community fund aspect to the project.
Local landowner John Talty added: "We would like to build on this decision to attract spin off investment into towns such as Miltown Malbay, Ennistymon , Kilrush and Ennis.
"The greening and decarbonisation of County Clare's economy is crucially important for sustainable economic recovery."